Day 4: Learning How My Sons Communicate with Me in the NICU

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When to cuddle and when to stop πŸ’™πŸ’™

16 Procedures: Neonates may experience as Many as 16 painful procedures a day

54-117DB: NICU sound levels may range from 54-117 db . The sound of a jet plane taking off is 124db.

40-60% : A neonates skin is approximately 40 to 60% thinner than an adults.

14 days: A neonates exposure to stressors is highest in the 14 days after birth

I woke up this morning anxious to get my hands on Peter as quickly as possible. All I could think about was holding him on my chest and feeling skin to skin .. to smell him and have him close again like he was for so long. We went to the NICU and I started taking to his incredible nurse. She has been in the NICU for 35 years and was sharing with me everything I could do while he was here to ensure he remains as stress free and safe as possible. She explained to me babies show signs of stress and, at this fragile state, any stressor can result in a serious event such as dangerous heart rates ( with Peter this is of extra concern because of his enlarged heart) or even worse , brain bleeds.

When I walked in to see him, he had hiccups. He was moving his arms and it looked so cute, like he knew I was there and was waving to me. After speaking to the nurse and reading what she suggested .. these are all signs of stress and it is best to limit contact. He has blood taken 3-4 x a day , and tubes coming out of his belly button, mouth, nose and a few other places. Extra stimuli, at this point, didn’t seem right to do. She suggested I hold his hands and put light pressure on the top of his head. She also told me to avoid his feet becuase that is where they take blood and he is likely to associate any touch there with pain. I stood like this .. watching his every breath as his little body would rise and fall for as long as she suggested and then we let him rest. I still felt such a connection to him.. even more now after learning some of his language and respecting where he is at this moment.

It’s hard to believe only four days ago my babies were inside me. The womb is a warm, dark and cozy home where my boys spent their days and nights curled up with arms and legs tucked in and flexed. Sounds of my heart beat were rhythmic and soothing while the outside world sounds are muffled and muted. This environment is ideal and so critical for their growing and developing brain.

At 28 weeks and 5 days my boy’s world was interrupted. Months earlier than expected, Peter and Maurice are now in a chaotic new home polluted with loud noises, painful procedures, beeping machines, bright lights and stressful handling. It’s very difficult for their immature brain and underdeveloped neurological system to process all these bombarding sensory messages. The NICU takes so many precautions to reduce the effects of this negative stimuli , however it’s impossible to eliminate all the stressors. It is my job to help protect my boys and learn to minimize the effects of this new world. By keeping their environment as peaceful as possible , I can help them grow and thrive.

Right now the only way my babies can communicate with me is through their behavior. Our nurse worked with me, teaching me based on her experience and her time with Peter , some of his likes and dislikes and basic preemie behavioral cues. Using these signs, I can learn what my baby is trying to tell me so I can give him the best start possible.

I’m focusing today to learn the signs and to listen to my boys as much as I can. Understanding their behavior and personality is just as important to me as understanding their blood work. The nurse also suggested I participate in cluster care and perform necessary procedures with the medical team. For example , be a part of bath time or hold his hands during an ultrasound.

I still yearn to have my boys close to me and I understand eventually this will not only happen but will be beneficial for them. For now, I will learn more about them and let them tell me when they are ready. In the past few days, I have been working on patience. NICU life is all about being patient and giving up control. I had tons of questions .. when can we stop this.. when do you think they will come home.. the nurse answered them all with “your babies will tell us.” I will continue to listen to my boys and learn their sweet language as I discover more about them each day. Thank you God for making me their mommy.

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